Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program


The Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program (AAEDIRP) is a unique research program formed in 2007 through partnerships between the member communities of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat, the Inuit of Labrador,15 Atlantic universities, and 3 government funders.

The main purpose of the AAEDIRP is to work with Aboriginal communities to improve the knowledge base concerning Atlantic Aboriginal economic development in order to improve the lives of Aboriginal people in the region.

To enhance strategic planning and research initiatives, the AAEDIRP is guided by a Steering Committee and a Research Subcommittee, both providing direction and advice throughout all research processes. Both committees are comprised of Aboriginal leaders, university representatives, and federal and provincial government funding partners.

In 2021, Atlantic region university partners will renew a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the AAEDIRP/APCFNC. This document sets out a common framework around issues such as overhead costs, protection for graduate students, and ownership of research. By signing the MOU, the universities agree that the AAEDIRP will not be charged university overhead administrative fees for projects the universities collaborate on.


1.  Fund and Facilitate Research on Aboriginal Economic  Development

The AAEDIRP builds bridges between post-secondary institutions and Atlantic Aboriginal communities; and provides ongoing support to Aboriginal communities and to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers from inception through implementation of the research. All research conducted is community-based participatory action research, linking the needs of Aboriginal communities with post-secondary resources in order to promote and enhance community economic development.

Main areas of research:

  • Sector-Focused
  • Employment and Education
  • Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Aboriginal Knowledge, Languages and Cultures
  • Measuring Aboriginal Economic Development Success

2.  Build Research Capacity

Research capacity is built through the collaborative relationships the AAEDIRP cultivates between Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers. Research capacity is also built through the hiring and training of Aboriginal researchers, associates, and assistants; and for non-Aboriginal researchers through the knowledge and experience gained by working with Aboriginal  communities.

3.  Share Knowledge on Aboriginal Economic Development

Workshops and conferences are conducted to bring people together from academic and community settings to share knowledge and build relationships. These workshops and conferences focus on best practices, the research needs of communities, and knowledge dissemination.

The Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program university partners include:

  • Acadia University
  • Cape Breton University
  • Dalhousie University
  • Mount Allison University
  • Memorial University
  • Mount St. Vincent University
  • Saint Mary’s University
  • St. Francis Xavier University
  • St. Thomas University
  • University of New Brunswick
  • Université de Moncton
  • University of PEI
  • Atlantic School of Theology
  • University of King’s College
  • Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.



Krista Thompson
Director, AAEDIRP

The new director of AAEDIRP is Krista Thompson, BSW, MBA. She was born to the late Shirley Julian and the late George Marshall of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaq Nation, and raised with the Thompson family of Portland, Maine. Krista received her Bachelor of Social Work from UMaine and then after a diverse and successful social work career, Krista entered Cape Breton University’s Masters in Business Administration in First Nation Community Economic Development.

Most recently Krista did a term position with Pictou Landing First Nation. In her role as the Director Economic and Community development, she supported businesses and craftspeople in gaining funding to support their professional goals. She assisted community members in business plan development and accessing resources.

Krista shares many of the qualities of the Mi’kmaq Nation. She is hardworking, has tremendous cultural pride, advocates for healing of intergenerational trauma, respectful, and defers to Elders wisdom. Krista has created many relationships throughout Mi’kma’ki that will support the work of AAEDIRP.

Krista would like to see economic prosperity across Mi’kma’ki. She sees the relationship with research at the grassroots level, as having a major impact in future development if used appropriately. Krista would like to disseminate the research of AAEDIRP to all who can benefit the most.
1-902-435-8021 ext 8025

 Samantha Calio | APCFNCSamantha Calio
Administrative Communications Assistant, AAEDIRP

Samantha Calio joined APC as the Administrative Communications Assistant of the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program (AAEDIRP) in January 2021. In this position, Samantha works closely with the AAEDIRP Director providing communications and administrative assistance.

In 2017 she completed her Bachelor of Journalism (Hons.) from the University of King’s College, which lead to a diverse range of opportunities including an internship at Ku’ku’kwes News, an independent Indigenous news outlet, magazine subscriptions and producer/reporter at News 95.7.

Samantha also completed a term position with Journalists for Human Rights as a Media Trainer in Fort Albany First Nation. In her role she conducted workshops and forums around media literacy, basic journalism writing, photography, radio skills and produced a local online newspaper, Peetabeck News, with the help of the students of Peetabeck Academy. She also produced the Kah-wee-pehtuck radio show with a community member and the Junior Journalists radio show, which was made up of students grade 4-8.

When not at work, Samantha can be found at the gym, at the barn or exploring Nova Scotia with her partner and dog.
1-902-435-8021 ext 8177


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